UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay
UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said the execution of Humberto Garcia put the U.S. in violation of international law. Photo Credit: United States Mission Geneva/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

The United Nations has condemned the American state of Texas for violating international law when it executed Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia. Garcia was executed Thursday, July 7, for the rape and murder a 16-year-old girl in 1994, but the UN contends he wasn’t advised of rights he had as a foreign national.

Dozens of condemned men uninformed of consular rights

The state of Texas has been slammed by the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, which admonished the United States and Gov. Rick Perry not to execute Humberto Leal Garcia because he had not been advised of certain rights at the time of his arrest, according to the BBC. A United Nations statue called the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations gives foreign nationals in countries that ratified that statue in the U.N. the right to have their national consulate notified of their arrest when taken into custody, according to Wikipedia. Humberto Leal Garcia was not asked whether he wanted a Mexican Consulate informed of his arrest. According to The Guardian, there were at least 51 other Mexican nationals on death row who were never informed of these rights as of 2004.

Warning issued to Texas

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the state of Texas had placed the United States in direct violation of its obligation to follow the Vienna Convention, and therefore the execution was a breach of international law. Some believe that Perry went ahead with the death warrant because it scores him political points, and he may be considering running for president in 2012 in a nation where a majority of citizens are in favor of the death penalty. The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court for an emergency hearing on the matter, seeking a stay of execution, but about an hour before Garcia was due to be put to death, the court ruled 5 to 4 that the Vienna Convention didn’t matter. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that because United Nations laws are not domestic laws, they don’t apply domestically.

Found guilty of heinous crime

Humberto Leal Garcia, before the controversy over his Vienna Convention rights began, was convicted in 1994 at age 17. He was found guilty of raping and murdering 16-year-old Adria Sauceda. According to CNN, whether Garcia committed the crime is not at the heart of the objections over his execution raised by the United Nations, the Obama administration and the State Department. Sauceda had been seen leaving a party with Garcia before she was found raped and murdered, according the San Antonio Express-News, and he apologized for his actions shortly before he was executed. The objection over Vienna Convention violations has been raised before. Two death row inmates have been moved from death row, one in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma, because of similar concerns.


BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14089246

Wikipedia on Vienna Convention on Consular Relations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Convention_on_Consular_Relations

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/08/rick-perry-texas-leal

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/07/01/texas.death.row.inmate/

San Antonio Express-News: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/S-A-teen-s-killer-dies-with-an-apology-1456909.php

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